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How to Boost Employee Morale at Your Independent Pharmacy (And Why It Matters)


November 15, 2018


Inside: Low morale leads to lower productivity and costly turnover. Learn how to keep your pharmacy staff happy at work with these tips.

When you own an independent pharmacy, you’re more than a healthcare provider. Your responsibilities may range from selecting the right front-end merchandise to keeping the books to marketing.

Pharmacy school rarely teaches one of the most crucial duties for independent community pharmacists: managing your staff. Your efficient processes and technology keep things running, but they don’t work without the employees.

You know your records and equipment must be well maintained for optimum performance. Similarly, workers must be nurtured and motivated in order to contribute their best to your business.

Cluing in to your employees’ happiness at work is a vital part of maintaining your most valuable asset—your people.

Why Morale Matters for Your Pharmacy

Improving employee morale isn’t just about being nice and caring about your team’s well-being. Your employees’ happiness—or lack thereof—affects how your business runs and influences your bottom line.

Morale affects performance

Better morale results in better performance.

Research from the University of Kansas found a causal link between employee satisfaction and company financial performance: for each one-star increase in a company’s overall rating on Glassdoor, based on employee reviews, the market value of the company jumped 7.9 percent.

“Our results suggest that corporate culture, as assessed by employees, helps predict subsequent firm performance,” the authors wrote.

Turnover is expensive

Replacing an employee who quits costs 21 percent of their annual pay on average. That’s more than the cost of most morale improvements, like an annual raise or some upgrades to your breakroom.

Talented people with in-demand skills have options. If working for you isn’t working out, your best people will walk—leaving you with the less qualified employees.

Retaining good employees is the smart strategy for the long-term success of your business.

If you’ve noticed your workers seem burned out or unhappy, improving morale should be at the top of your to-do list. But even if everyone at your pharmacy is satisfied, it’s important to proactively prevent potential morale pitfalls before they occur. Here’s how.

Seven Ways to Improve Employee Satisfaction
1. Create a comfortable environment

Many things can contribute to (or detract from) the comfort of your pharmacy. One of the most consequential factors is where your employees eat lunch. A survey conducted in the UK found that 76 percent of employees prefer a designated lunch area.

Being able to comfortably relax and eat helps workers return from their breaks feeling recharged. An uncomfortable, unsightly, or nonexistent break room can turn mealtime into a source of stress instead of respite.

Other ways to make the work environment more comfortable include adding plants, art, and other objects that aren’t specifically for work. Those additions can enrich employees’ quality of life and possibly lead to a 15 percent bump in productivity.

2. Provide recognition and rewards

Pharmacy work often means long hours, difficult conversations, long lines of customers, and novel challenges. Nobody is working at your pharmacy for the glory, but a little appreciation goes a long way.

A 2017 Office Vibe survey found a whopping 72 percent of employees receive praise less than once per week. It’s not surprising, then, that 65 percent of employees in the same survey said they don’t feel like they get enough praise at work.

“Not getting recognition for your work when you know you deserve it is one of the most frustrating things that can happen in an organization,” the report said.

It’s important not to confuse recognition with rewards. Rewards—like bringing your staff lunch or giving movie tickets to your best performers—should be occasional. Recognition should be frequent.

3. Establish a sense of team and purpose

People need to feel like part of something bigger than themselves. In the workplace, that means belonging to a team working toward shared goals.

Set clear, measurable goals. Help each employee understand how their strengths help the team meet those goals. Celebrate success together.

Most importantly, integrate your purpose into your pharmacy’s culture. Consider writing a mission statement outlining your store’s values and posting it where employees can always see it.

4. Support your employees’ career development

Tackling the ever-changing challenges that come with running a small business will keep you learning and growing for years. Can you say the same for your pharmacists or pharm techs? What about your clerks and cashiers?

According to a survey released earlier this year, a lack of development opportunities is one of the most common worker complaints.

Look for opportunities to expand your employees’ expertise. It can be as simple as teaching them a new task around the store and increasing their responsibilities. It could also take the form of additional training, seminars, conferences, or certifications.

The benefit to you is twofold: your employee is now even more competent, and you’re staving off toxic low morale.

5. Keep pay competitive

According to Glassdoor, money is the number one motivator for 67 percent of job seekers and employees looking elsewhere for career opportunities.

And salaries are on the rise nationwide among independent community pharmacy workers. The NCPA’s 2018 Digest clocked average non-owner pharmacist wages at $58.10 per hour, with technicians earning $15.05 and clerks earning $11.05.

How do your wages stack up?

Those numbers only reflect the national average, though. Your region or particular community might have different pay levels that you need to keep up with.

Here are some ways to find out what you’re local competitors are paying:

 

6. Be flexible where you can

Some things are non-negotiable. There are laws and regulations you must follow, procedures that are essential for safety, and behaviors that are never okay. But if you’re enforcing rules just for the sake of rules, you’ll frustrate your employees.

Good managers know when to do things by the book and when to loosen up. For example, insisting that a pharmacy tech finish her full scheduled shift when the store looks like a ghost town and she needs to leave five minutes early to pick up her child from daycare shows a you value sticking to the plan more than you value your staff’s time.

Showing that you understand your employees have responsibilities and commitments outside of work builds considerable good will. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, 53 percent of employees say a role that allows them to have greater work-life balance and better personal well-being is “very important” to them.

7. Listen

It’s impossible to identify every potential problem or opportunity that may pop up in your business. Let your employees be your eyes and ears.

Encourage your staff to bring up any questions and concerns. If a piece of equipment or a process you’ve put in place isn’t working, the employees on the floor will be the first to know.

Yet many employees feel their managers aren’t hearing them. One study found that just 12 percent of employees believe their employer listens to and cares about them. How motivated would you be to work hard for someone who didn’t give a hoot about you?

Show your staff you value their input by letting them speak without interrupting. Confirm that you understand the issue by repeating the basic idea back to them and asking, “Do I understand you correctly?”

Then give their problem or suggestion some real thought. For many inquiries, a simple “Let me think it over and I’ll get back to you” is sufficient in the moment. But you should actually think it over and get back to them—saying one thing and doing another will erode trust.

 

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